Boredom/insomnia last night led me to the realization that we are now at the halfway point of the season. With 1440 total games (30x48), last night the NHL cleared the 720 game threshold. Although some teams have played less than 24 and other more. So I decided to look at the standings and compare where we would be if the playoffs were to start today using the current Divisions and the new Divisions following next season's realignment. Since some teams have played less than others, I decided to go by Points % rather than total points.
1) Boston 79.5% (1st Northeast)
2) Pittsburgh 68.0% (1st Atlantic)
3) Carolina 60.4% (1st Southeast)
4) Montreal 72.0%
5) Ottawa 60.0%
6) Toronto 59.6%
7) New York R 56.5%
8) New Jersey 54.0%
Playoffs: BOSxNJD, PITxNYR, CARxTOR, MTLxOTT
1) Chicago 90.0% (1st Central)
2) Anaheim 80.4% (1st Pacific)
3) Vancouver 60.9% (1st Northwest)
4) Los Angeles 60.9%
5) San Jose 58.7%
6) St. Louis 58.3 %
7) Minnesota 56.5%
8) Detroit 56.0%
Playoffs: CHIxDET, ANAxMIN, VANxSTL, LAKxSJS
4 Division Format
East - "Central"
1) Boston 79.5%
2) Montreal 72.0%
3) Ottawa 60.0%
East - Atlantic
1) Pittsburgh 68.0%
2) Carolina 60.4%
3) New York R 56.5%
East - Wild Card
1) Toronto 59.6% (4th "Central")
2) Detroit 56.0% (5th "Central")
Playoffs: BOSxDET, MTLxOTT, PITxTOR, CARxNYR
West - "Mid-West"
1) Chicago 90.0%
2) St. Louis 58.3%
3) Minnesota 56.5%
West - Pacific
1) Anaheim 80.4%
2) Los Angeles 60.9%
3) Vancouver 60.9%
West - Wild Card
1) San Jose 58.7% (4th Pacific)
2) Dallas 54.2% (4th "Mid-West")
Playoffs: CHIxDAL, STLxMIN, ANAxSJS, LAKxVAN
So the only real changes between the current system and the realignment are:
- Detroit makes the playoffs no matter which conference, but replaces one of 2 teams
- In the current format, Detroit replaces Dallas in the West.
- Under the realignment format, Detroit replaces New Jersey in the East.
- Under the current format, playoff travel for the West teams would be atrocious. The 1st round would see Anaheim (PST) vs Minnesota (CST) and Vancouver (PST) vs St. Louis (CST). That's a 2 hour time difference, which is not ideal for prime time playoff TV ratings. Not to mention the 1778.6mi flight to and from VAN/STL and 1523.4mi flight to and from ANA/MIN.
- The Wild Card playoff berths, what is supposed to be creating balance in the playoff chances, is what is responsible for Detroit making the playoffs but New Jersey not qualifying. This results in Toronto, a "Central" team, having the opportunity to be crowned Atlantic Division champion.
- The argument that the Conferences need to be equally split with 15 East and 15 West teams seems to be invalid. Columbus, the most likely candidate to be the 15th West team would be 13th place in the East under the 16/14 realignment, or 14th place in the West using either the current format or a realignment based 15/15 split. Either way, it does not affect anybody's playoff chances.